Experts: Time will show whether South Caucasus become one of European External Action Service’s priorities

Experts: Time will show whether South Caucasus become one of European External Action Service’s priorities

Azerbaijan, Baku, May 4 / Trend, E.Ostapenko /

Establishment of European External Action Service will strengthen European Union's role on the international political scene. However, it is too early to forecast which regions will be priority areas of the service, experts say.

"The European External Action Service (EEAS) can become a powerful instrument to strengthen the EU's voice on the international stage, provided the EU's political authorities can agree on strong policies and formulate a clear message," Thomas Klau, one of Europe's leading experts on international relations told Trend.

At the same time, the EEAS will constitute a pool of expertise which the High Representative can draw on to formulate policy proposals, said Klau, Paris bureau chief of European Council on Foreign Relations think tank.

Serious correction of external policy strategy of the European Union and the principles of its positioning in the world is envisaged by the Lisbon Treaty reforms.

Plan of establishing EEAS, offered by EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, has been already approved by the European Council. If the project will receive support also in other EU institutions - the European Parliament and European Commission - the new service will start its work in summer. The European Parliament is responsible for staff regulations and budget issues. The European Commission must give the final agreement.

EEAS is one of the most substancial innovations of the Lisbon Treaty, Janis Emmanouilidis, Senior Policy Analyst at the European Policy Centre (EPC) in Brussels believes. However there have not been the debate yet about what the EU's priorities would be in the next years.

"This is something where Catherine Ashton can step forward with certain ideas and we have to try to convince the foreign ministries especially, the governments of the member-states. It is questionable that in the end the region of South Caucasus and Central Asia would be a key priority or not," Emmanouilidis said.

After the Lisbon Treaty came into force in December of 2009 EU officials more frequently make statements about the intention to speak with one vioce and to play more significant role in the international political arena. There have been a numerous statements about more active involvement in the establishment of stability in the South Caucasus, as well as in political settlement in Kyrgyzstan in connection with the change of power and unrest in the republic.

EEAS has the ability to contribute to the development of more of a European Foreign Policy culture bringing together people from different origins (from the Commission, the member-states, General Affairs Council in Brussels) and bringing together people that have not been working closely in the past. So there will be exchange of views and also exchange of cultures which in the end might create a real European Foreign Policy culture.

"Europe needs an external action service because that will help us to build a distinct, 21st century European response. It will be a service that will bring together the European institutions. It will bring together in a joined up way our response to the issues that we face in the world and promote comprehensive policies," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton stated.

Supposedly the new structure will have about seven thousand employees and embassies in 136 countries worldwide. The experts do not exclude that after the reform comes into force small European countries will annul part of its own diplomatic missions, giving their credentials to the embassies of the EU.

Without the EEAS there will be no real EU policy and only ad hoc reactions, Piotr Kaczynski, an analyst at the Center for European Policy Studies believes. The EEAS would empower the EU Foreign Policy Chief to be able to come up with new resolutions and ideas. Also, it potentially will prevent emergence of internal EU divisions, as it was the case in i.e. recognition of Kosovo.     

However, until the work of the new EU service will bring real benefits it will take time, experts agree.

In the beginning there will be many difficulties, because totally new service is being created which is ineither in the European Commission, nor the Council, and that will create a lot of problems as it will not be clear who has which competences.

The new European service will consist of representatives from the European Commission by one-third, one third - of the representatives of Member-States and one third - of the representatives of the European Council.

For example, the European Commission has a great weight in matters of development and trade policy, and it will try to uphold this role, Emmanuilidis said. There will be a lot of mixture with issues related both to trade and to security at the same time. Thus, it will be necessary to coordinate the powers that are not clearly separated. This is a difficult task, he said.

Experts expect active debates about the creation of the EEAS, but they believe that the compromise will be finally reached and the project will enter into force.

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